Fishermen's Energy Regulatory Process with NJ BPU
BPU Staff Recommendation to Deny the Atlantic City Windfarm Project is Inconsistent with the Law and Hinders Job and Economic Growth in New Jersey
The BPU staff recommendation to deny approval of the Atlantic City Windfarm has no legal basis and is inconsistent with the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act (OWEDA) signed into law by Governor Christie in 2010. The transcript of the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) hearing on December 20, 2013 demonstrates that their assertions are based on opinion, not fact.
It has taken the BPU more than two years to provide feedback on this project, which Fishermen’s Energy has proven will bring significant benefits to New Jersey without any risks to ratepayers. The Department of Environmental Protection, the Army Corp. of Engineering, and BPU consultants, including the Division of Rate Counsel, support the project.
Outlined below are examples of the BPU staff’s flawed rationale.
Record Demonstrates Positive Benefits
BPU Staff Claim: “Staff primarily recommends the denial of this project because the record does not indicate that positive economic benefits will inure to the state of New Jersey,” said Deputy Attorney General Alex Moreau during the hearing.
Fact: The BPU consultant, Boston Pacific, concluded: “With documented economic benefits and lower OREC [Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credit] price, even if FACW’s [Fishermen’s Energy Atlantic City Windfarm] claimed benefits for tourism, environmental impacts, merit order effect, and lessons learned are excluded, the project provides net benefits of $33.4 million. The Project then meets the requirement to demonstrate net benefits to the State as required under the Act.”
Record Demonstrates Job Growth
BPU Staff Claim: “Unfortunately, there has not been any record From Fishermen’s that indicated the number of jobs that this project potentially could create,” said Moreau.
Fact: The BPU’s consultant, Boston Pacific, concluded: “FACW is now guaranteeing the creation of 216 direct jobs during construction and 12 direct jobs a year during operations. FACW’s expenditure and job guarantees mean that its determination of economic benefits and costs during construction and operation of the Project is now credibly documented.”
Record Demonstrates Fishermen’s Energy Commitment
BPU Staff Claim: “Staff is not going to recommend that a petition be approved with so many uncertainties, so many omissions, so much lack of commitment on the part of the applicant,” Moreau stated.
Fact: Fishermen’s Energy has demonstrated its commitment to the Atlantic City Windfarm by assuming all of the risks associated with the permitting, building, financing, operating and decommissioning the project. Fishermen’s Energy has also agreed to take on the risk of obtaining federal incentives and has already passed that benefit on to ratepayers in the form of a lower power price.
Record Demonstrates Fishermen’s Energy Will Absorb All Risk
BPU Staff Claim: “Staff has doubts that Fishermen’s can in fact without the Federal Funding proceed with this project as proposed in the application,” said Moreau. “The key factor is the lack of commitment with respect to the Federal Funding.”
Fact: OWEDA states that applicants are required to document application for Federal Funding, which Fishermen’s Energy has done. OWEDA also requires that risks to ratepayers be minimized. Fishermen’s Energy has demonstrated it will absorb all the risks of obtaining Federal Funding and will not pass it on to ratepayers.
The record states: Commissioner Fiordaliso: “So would I be correct in coming to the conclusion that Staff, bottom line, believes the risks are too great for the ratepayers to proceed with the project?” Mr. Moreau: “Yes.”
What staff thinks is irrelevant: The staff’s claim that there are many risks to the ratepayers is simply not supported by the factual record. The record demonstrates that Fishermen’s Energy has absorbed all risks.
Fishermen’s Energy has met all the legal requirements of the OWEDA legislation, and it is time for the BPU to implement the law. If the BPU is unable to approve a well-documented and supported demonstration project, how can it be expected to impartially approve commercial scale projects?
Moving forward with the Atlantic City Windfarm, a demonstration project, is the prudent next step to testing wind policy and development, and would position New Jersey as a national leader in renewable energy. The project will also bring much needed jobs and economic development to New Jersey at no risk to ratepayers.
To deny this project approval would contradict the intention of the OWEDA legislation and cost New Jersey jobs. BPU Commissioners should make its decision based on facts contained in the record and not opinion.
Documentation for FISHERMEN'S ENERGY REGULATORY PROCESS WITH NJ BPU
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